West of England Joint Spatial Plan
Published: 05 February 2019
The four West of England Councils, which include North Somerset, have worked together over the last two years to produce a West of England Joint Spatial Plan (JSP). This will plan for sustainable growth to help the Region meet its housing and transport needs for the next 20 years.
On completion of the appropriate consultations, the four councils will submit their proposed JSP to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.
The JSP presently describes plans for areas close to our Parish and involves very major changes. These include two large developments, one north of and near to Churchill and Sandford and another near Banwell, both being described as ‘Strategic Development Locations’ (SDL).
The development north of Churchill and Sandford is planned as 2,800 homes and that near Banwell 1,900 homes. Both will include a local centre, employment and schools.
A dual carriageway will be constructed through the Churchill and Sandford development. This will link a new junction, J21a, on the M5 near Banwell to the A38 somewhere south of Bristol Airport. It will bypass Banwell, Sandford and Churchill. In addition, a spur road will be built to join the A368 at Towerhead.
By 2036, 1000 new houses are planned for smaller developments throughout North Somerset, these being defined as ‘Non-strategic Growth’. As far as Sandford and Winscombe are concerned the sites allocated by North Somerset that have yet to gain planning permission include Broadleaze Farm, Shipham Lane, Coombe Farm and North of Greenhill Lane (Aurora). Those with planning permission include land to the North of Greenhill Lane (Strongvox) and Woodborough Farm. Extra proposals are likely.
Our Parish Planning Committee responded as follows:
Banwell Garden Village
No new housing should be built before the Bypass in completed in its entirety. To complete this piecemeal would only serve to transfer Banwell congestion problems onto the A368 in Sandford and create a greater flow of traffic and bottlenecks through Sandford and Churchill. It is preferred that the J21a is an all-direction junction to alleviate ‘rat runs’ to J21. Once achieved, a traffic-calming scheme could be appropriate in surrounding villages.
Churchill Garden Village
The Parish Council believes that the Churchill SDL proposed to the north of Sandford is misconceived, excessive and unacceptable for the following reasons:
1. There is insufficient room in the identified area for a development of this size without effectively joining a number of communities together. If the Garden Village were to proceed, it is unlikely that a meaningful separation-gap would be possible and residents of Sandford would be cut off from the open countryside by a swathe of new houses. The creation of a village of this size would change the area to an urban environment.
2. Environmental or green corridors around, and through the development would be essential to separate the settlements and is considered important both environmentally, and so that the distinctive characteristics of both old and new villages would be preserved and enhanced. As previously stated, there is Insufficient land available in the location to achieve this.
3. The area identified is considered to be in an unsustainable location, poorly served by public transport with the majority of residents already commuting by private car to employment in Bristol and other large centres. The allocation of 7.2 hectares for employment land is not adequate to address this issue in a Garden Village of this size.
4. It is accepted that there is a critical need to significantly boost housing supply in the area, particularly that of affordable housing. From documentation available (Paribas Report), it is understood that the Churchill SDL is unlikely to be viable within the plan period and will provide little, if any, affordable housing in line with Planning Policy requirements.
5. The Churchill SDL will be clearly visible from the Mendip Hills AONB and have a significant impact on views from the protected landscape. The Garden Village would add a significant amount of light pollution and have a negative impact on the dark skies and the area’s sense of tranquillity. The Mendip Hills AONB Partnership has written a letter of objection to the inclusion of the Churchill Garden Village and those views are endorsed by the Parish Council.
6. As a village greatly affected by this SDL, Sandford has not been directly consulted and measures to protect the needs, social welfare and enhance the lives of local residents have not been explored. Both Banwell and Churchill have been consulted.
With no clear division between the settlements, it is considered that the Churchill SDL does not conform to a Garden Village Model. The Churchill SDL is in the wrong place and should be removed from the plan and a better, more sustainable, alternate site such as The Vale by the South Bristol Link Road explored.
It was proposed that the above responses be submitted to the NSC’s Consultation on the NS Local Plan to 2036 with regard to the Banwell and Churchill Garden Villages. All members were in favour of the proposition.